Youth baseball league hits snag for season two
The Tri River Youth Baseball league, centered in Molalla, is entering into its second season of play, but it hasn't been without hiccups.
During the planning process for the upcoming season, board member Nichole Kliewer, who was in charge of field reservations, hit some bumps when it came to finding a place for Tri River teams to play.
Kliewer noticed that the City of Molalla's website notes reservations are first come, first served; she said she also confirmed this when she turned in her application in December and learned that no one else had submitted an application yet for the field—placing Tri River in the first come position. But she would soon discover they wouldn't be first served.
"So I hadn't heard anything, and then about a week ago, I received an email from Dan Huff, the city manager, saying that they had a long-term standing relationship with [Molalla Youth Sports] and they would not be giving us fields at all, which is really concerning," Kliewer said. "And they said we would need to go through MYS to try to utilize those fields."
Huff confirmed that city administration made the decision to give priority to MYS.
"If we had approved [Tri River's] application, what am I going to hear from Molalla Youth Sports?" Huff said. "That's the dilemma behind it. What we decided to do was go with the organization that's been here for longer."
Huff further noted that the simple first-come, first-served philosophy is not part of city code, but rather an unofficial method that has worked up to this point.
He also described that there was more to the decision than who came first.
"[MYS] had a lease in place—it's kind of a park-use agreement that was in place—and it was going on for eternity until somebody decided that it wasn't," Huff said.
However, now the city is tightening up that agreement, according to Huff, so that MYS will need to come to the city annually for use of the parks.
"We would love to work with MYS; we would love to work with the city and provide options for kiddos that can't afford the high fees through other organizations," Kliewer said. "But at this point, we're also highly concerned with the city itself and are looking at, I don't even know who we would go to—us not having a mayor at the moment—but escalating this further and trying to figure out a solution to where it's not just MYS for these fields."
Currently, the new league is working to secure use of fields close by.
It's no secret why the competition to reserve the fields exists. The city does not charge for use of their fields, making them a perfect fit for the youth sports leagues that strive to make activities affordable for families.
The Tri River Youth Baseball league was born out of President Brianna Berreth's desire to provide a more affordable option to area residents.
"I was frustrated by the rising costs of youth sports, and I felt I was running into dead ends with the school board and other local sports programs," Berreth said. "So after doing research, I found the Cal Ripken/Babe Ruth program. After speaking with their state commissioner, we thought this would be a great fit. Cal Ripken/Babe Ruth is a nationwide program that has been around for more than 60 years."
The league offers recreational baseball to boys and girls ages 4-15 years old in several divisions: T-ball, Rookies, Minors, Majors and 13-15u. T-ball costs $49 per player, and all other divisions are $99. This includes the cost of the player's uniform.
"Our price point is about half of what MYS charges," Kliewer said, "and our goal is to not undercut MYS, but it's to serve children that would not be able to pay those fees."
Players who want to take their competition to the next level can also participate in All Stars and Summer Ball for additional cost, Berreth said. These teams compete in a tournament trail to the state competition.
The league is open to players from Molalla, Colton, Canby, Beavercreek, Aurora and Woodburn.
Tri River teams will play teams from West Linn, Lakeridge, Salem, Gresham, St. Paul, Lincoln, Lower Columbia and Portland during the season that runs from April through July 1.
Registration is now open through March 8 online at tririveryouthbaseball.com.